Crisp-Skinned Porchetta with Lemon and Chile

Porchetta, a traditional Italian street food, is a moist and fatty fresh ham covered with skin that's heavily seasoned with salty garlic, rosemary, fennel and lemon. Chef James Lewis of Bettola in Birmingham, Alabama, adds some heat to his version with crushed red pepper.

video Best New Chef 2011: James Lewis


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  • Servings: 12 to 14

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  • 6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped (1 cup)
  • 16 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • Finely grated zest of 4 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • One 18-pound, bone-in fresh ham with shank and skin (see Note)

How to make this recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. In a food processor, process the pancetta until finely ground. Transfer the pancetta to a plate. Add the garlic, lemon zest, rosemary, red pepper, fennel, black pepper, 2 teaspoons of salt and the olive oil to the food processor and pulse until the garlic is finely chopped. Add the pancetta and pulse until the paste is well blended.

  2. Set the ham skin side down on a work surface. Using a sharp knife, slash the meat at regular intervals. Season the meat lightly with salt. Spread the spice paste all over the meat and in the slashes. Fold the leg back together and with long, thick bamboo skewers, thread the leg closed at 2-inch intervals to keep the leg sealed. Set the leg skin side up. Cut a crosshatch pattern in the skin and fat. Season the skin and fat generously with salt and transfer the ham to a large roasting pan.

  3. Bake the ham in the lower third of the oven for 2 hours and 45 minutes, rotating the pan twice. Increase the oven temperature to 375° and continue to roast the ham for about 2 hours longer, rotating the pan twice. The ham is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 170° and the skin is very crisp. Transfer the ham to a carving board to rest for 25 to 30 minutes.

  4. Pour the pan juices into a small saucepan and skim off the fat; keep warm.

  5. Carve the ham into 1/3-inch-thick slices and serve with the crunchy skin. Pass the warm pan juices at the table.


Have your butcher remove the hip and leg bone, leaving the shank bone in. There should be a layer of skin covering about two-thirds of the leg on top and a layer of exposed fat covering the rest of the leg.

Serve With

Roasted potatoes and greens.

Suggested Pairing

Central Italy is the birthplace of porchetta, so it makes sense that wines from areas like Abruzzo, such as Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, go well with this dish.

Contributed By Photo © Anna Williams Published July 2011

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